From shopfloor worker to company president
At 36, Axel Boström was faced by the greatest challenge in his life. He was to succeed Lars Magnus Ericsson as company president. Boström had already achieved significant career success within Ericsson. Rising from the engineering shop to administrative work and ultimate promotion to office manager. When Ericsson became a limited liability company in 1896, he was elected to the Board and four years later was voted president of the company.
Axel Boström possessed the attributes associated with corporate leaders - he was both enterprising and determined. During his time in the office, Boström managed the company's business; he focused on exports when the domestic market stagnated and he devoted himself energetically to the business of selecting and hiring foreign agents.
As company president, he relocated many of Ericsson's production operations abroad; a trend that had been started earlier but which accelerated under his direction. However, Boström's poor language abilities meant that he delegated most of the work involved in establishing operations outside Sweden to his colleagues.
Axel Boström was strong-willed, which led to disagreements on some issues with the more cautious Lars Magnus Ericsson. However, more often than not, it was the company founder who eventually capitulated and followed Boström's line.
At the same time, Boström was perceptive and his business proposals well justified. For example, his recruitment of Hemming Johansson - later to become president of Ericsson - from Stockholms Allmänna Telefonaktiebolag, was highly successful. And, when certain Board members expressed doubt about Ericsson's establishment of a telephone company in Mexico in 1905, he persuaded them otherwise with well worked-out plans and calculations showing how the company could achieve success in this market.
Occasionally, however, he made decisions on important issues without consulting the Board. Ericsson terminated relations with the Swedish Metal Trades Employers? Association on the sole initiative of Axel Boström. He refused categorically to close the gates to the Ericsson plants in what he considered was an unwarranted lockout action.
The company's employees also experienced Boström's stubbornness. When management served termination notices on a few employees in 1901, the Ericsson union branch made intensive efforts to have the company reinstate the dismissed workers, but "it was impossible to move Director Boström."
Axel Boström could be described as an eccentric. In a photograph taken when Ericsson work supervisors were visiting his residence, the host was shown wearing a fez. He was also one of the first automobile enthusiasts in the country. Tragically, he was killed one Sunday evening in July 1909 when his motor car plunged into a ditch.
Author: Katarina Reinius